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One-thirds Afghans believe country moving in right direction

One-thirds Afghans believe country moving in right direction

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Nov 15, 2017 - 14:06

KABUL (Pajhwok): Optimism among the Afghans about the future of their country in a positive direction and trust in the unity government has slightly increased despite challenges and problems, a survey conducted by the Asia Foundation says.

The survey reports ‘seven percent’ increase in the public trust in the government’s performance and the majority of those interviewed in the survey support women going out to work.

The rise in optimism of Afghans about their country’s direction reverses a downward trajectory in the nation’s mood since 2013.

Half of the interviewees believed peace was possible with the Taliban and a high percentage of public trusted religious leaders.

A five percent increase was noted in public trust in development councils and four percent increase in trust in the Independent Election Commission (IEC), but a low average percentage of people trusted lawmakers, ministers.

The survey’s main findings revolve around public complaints about corruption.

The Asia Foundation says the survey was longest-running and broadest about the Afghan attitudes towards critical issues facing their country.

Since 2004, more than 97,000 Afghan men and women were interviewed as part of the survey and their opinions collected about security, economy, governance and government services, elections, media, women’s issues, and migration.

In 2006, the annual survey started with the question “If Afghanistan is moving in the right direction or wrong”. The positive direction meant people’s optimism about future of Afghanistan and wrong direction meant public pessimism.

The 2017 survey included additional questions related to migration and remittances, a significant issue for Afghanistan’s economy.

Country’s direction:

Since the launch of the survey, a high percentage of public optimism was recorded in 2013, when over 58 percent of Afghans believed their country was moving in the right direction.

The 2017 survey showed a slight increase in public optimism, reversing downward trajectory of optimism since 2013 in the national mood. This year, 33 percent people were optimistic about the future of the county, compared to 29 percent the previous year.

 

 

Fears about personal safety declined in the East and Southwest of Afghanistan, but spiked from 67.5% in 2016 to 80.2% in 2017 in the West.

The survey cited rehabilitation of Afghanistan, good governance, women’s rights, economy, international cooperation, decline in foreign interference and others as factors contributing to the positive change in the national mood.

But at the same time, fears about security and economy affected people’s attitude about future as a large number of the respondents believed these factors caused pessimism.

The survey showed security challenges topped all other problems as more than 69 percent individuals interviewed complained about insecurity.

It is pertinent to mention that among every five individuals interviewed, one complained against violence and crimes -- one percent down compared to the previous year. 

The number of Afghans who strongly agreed that the Afghan National Police (ANP) were honest and fair had increased to 44 percent from previous year’s 37 percent, while the same thinking about the Afghan Army surged from 49 percent to 60 percent.

The report showed over 49 percent of urban residents and more than 36 percent residents of rural areas saw economic problems behind pessimism, but over 38 percent rural residents and more than 32 percent urban residents were worried about issues in governance.

The reported confirmed the level of optimism about the country’s future in the ongoing year has increased among different ethnic groups, except the Uzbeks. The report said residents of eastern zone of the country were more optimistic.

The Uzbek ethnic community said they were disappointed because of their leader and first Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum’s differences with the government and were on the opposite side of the unity government.

Dostum has been in Turkey since more than a year.

 According to reports, Dostum wanted to land in Afghanistan in July, but his plane was not allowed by German forces stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif Airport to land.

After a two-year decline in perceptions about how well government institutions do their job, including a historic decline in 2016, perceptions this year have improved.

Public trust in government institutions has improved after a historic decline in 2016, but some doubted the ability of government leaders to improve people’s living style.

More than half of the Afghans surveyed, 65 percent believed the National Unity Government (NUG) was doing a good job (“very good” or “somewhat good”),

Women outdoor work and their problems

Of every 10 individuals interviewed, seven attended primary education but eight among every ten persons studied higher education who have support of women working outside home.

The survey suggested a two percent increase this year in people’s support for women education compared to the previous year.

Like previous year, interviewed individuals this year said illiteracy was one of the major problems of women.

 

Dressing and proper working environment for women

When asked about which dress they considered proper for women in public, one-thirds of the interviewees selected burqa, 28 percent niqab, 16 percent hijab, 16 percent close-hitting hijab and 15 percent chador or headscarf.

According to the source, 37 percent of the respondents in rural residents and 20 percent in urban areas selected burqa as the most proper dress for women in public.

The survey showed that Afghans in general supported women’s access to leadership.

Most of the respondents said female-only schools and hospitals or clinics were proper places for women’s activities while 36 percent supported women’s presence in the military areas.

Economic problems

According to the survey, seven among each 10 (15 to 24 years old) youth identified joblessness as their major problem. The Asia Foundation survey last year also presented similar statistics about complaints regarding joblessness.

The source said one-thirds of the respondents said their family financial position had declined compared to last year and more than 50 percent complained about deteriorated job situation.

Peace and reconciliation

The survey said, among each six respondents, two in the east, two in the south and one each in the southeast and central zones believed peace “is possible with the Taliban.” This statistic varies in different areas of the country.

Education

The report said people of elder age found little access to education and more than 48 percent of them said they had no formal education.

Two of each 10 people had primary education, three secondary and one higher education, according to the survey.

Trust in public institutes

The report said the Afghans in the second (2017) survey of Asia Foundation also showed a high trust in religious leaders.

The source said people’s trust in the development councils had increased from 53 percent last year to 58 percent in 2017 and in the Independent Election Commission (IEC) from 34 percent last year to 38 percent current year.

About their representatives in the parliament, 37 percent of the respondent said the lawmakers were busy promoting their personal interests, 22.9 said they focused on tribal interests, 18.1 said the MPs focused on provincial issues, 10.4 said they focused on national issues and 9.4 said they focused on district and urban issues, the survey says.

While more than half of the respondents said their representatives listened to problems of their constituents using ‘good’ and ‘very good’ words.

Corruption is raging

The Asia Foundation said like the previous year, this year too almost all Afghans believed corruption had surrounded all aspects of their life.

Most of the Afghans said they had paid bribes to judiciary organs and during apply for jobs.

Family and friends are common sources of information while television and radio stations become second source of information for Afghans, the survey said. Mobile telephones are also a source of information for people.

Surprisingly, after an unprecedented surge in the internet use since 2013, the use of the facility as an information source did not increase in 2017 and remained at 12 percent, as in 2016, the survey said.

Miscellaneous

Almost half of the Afghans said they influenced (to some extend or on high level) local government’s decisions and another half were concerned about elections.

The survey said 72 percent respondents said they feared participating in peaceful protests, 62 percent said religious leaders should be involved in politics and 89 percent said women should participate in elections.

According to the survey, 45 percent men and 41 percent women resolved their cases through village councils and local jirgas, 12 percent agreed with exchange marriages and resolving disputes with traditional ‘Baad marriages’ while 90 percent agreed that girls have inheritance right.

The statistics show 39 percent of respondents said they would leave the country if found the chance due to security problems, joblessness and other issues. But those who wanted to stay in Afghanistan said they respected their Afghan identity and felt safe living in their own country.

mds/ma

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